The School of Medicine welcomed 216 new medical students at the annual White Coat ceremony on July 11 at Severance Music Center. At the annual "coating" ceremony, the first-year medical students receive their first white coats, a symbol of the profession which serves as a formal entrance to the medical profession.
Students and their family members gathered with school leaders, faculty and staff at the historic home of the Cleveland Orchestra for this milestone event. Dean Gerson presided over the ceremony with Lia Logio, vice dean for education; and Harry "Bud" Isaacson, executive dean of the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine; and reflected on what students can anticipate during their time at Case Western Reserve over the next four, five to nine years.
"Being a physician is indeed a calling. As you don your white coat, recognize it as the start of your physician calling," said Dean Stan Gerson. "Our medical educators here today strive to create a learning, research and clinical environment designed to help each of you become collectively the best physicians, scientists and healers on the planet."
Mildred "Mimi" Lam (MED '73), MD, professor of medicine and a nephrologist at MetroHealth Medical Center, provided the keynote address. Even while maintaining a busy clinical practice in nephrology, Dr. Lam is deeply committed to the school’s educational mission. Her efforts in educating the next generation of healthcare leaders have been recognized with numerous teaching awards, including the Kaiser Permanente Teaching Award, and she has been elected to the School of Medicine's Academy of Scholar Educators.
Her message to the incoming students focused on the unique role that medical students play within the medical system. She encouraged students to make the most of this role by being open to new opportunities to learn, which often come from patients who are some of the best teachers. She stressed the student's responsibility as a student is the link between their patient and the entire medical system. She concluded by encouraging students to take time for themselves, as medical school is stressful and downtime is necessary. Dr. Lam shared a short video she created during the height of the pandemic as a meditation on the sights and sounds of her neighborhood in Shaker Heights to encourage students to slow down at times and take care of their wellbeing.
"We have just scratched the surface of all you can be and do and learn as a medical student," said Dr. Lam. "I hope these ideas will help you embrace and cherish your special role and will make you think about how you as a student can make a difference in the lives of your patients, their families and all the people you work with."
The ceremony concluded with the students reciting the Student Oath of Professionalism which they developed collectively as a class during orientation week. This pledge affirms students' commitment to ethical standards and providing patients with the highest quality of care. This year’s class oath ends with—"We vow to leave the profession better than we found it."